All-Stars: American League

peter · June 21, 2005 at 6:39 am · Filed Under General baseball 

“Democracy is on trial, on a more colossal scale than ever before.”

–Charles Fletcher Dole, The Spirit of Democracy 1845 (?)

I used to get really worked up about filling out my All-Star ballot. I just can’t bring myself to do it anymore. It’s just not a big deal to me. It’s an exhibition game. Maybe that’s a sad thing. Maybe not.

My inner-12-year-old chockful of wonder and idealism would love to see the very greatest baseball players on one field playing against each other. My inner-world-weary-cynic says its a heinous MLB publicity stunt that nobody takes seriously. So why should I?

And thus the dilemma as I sit in the stands, All-Star ballot in hand.

Everybody’s got a system. And I’m starting to believe that All-Star voting systems are like fingerprints and snowflakes. No two people share the same All-Star voting system. The home team. Favorite players. Highest batting average as of May 1. Win Shares over the last three years divided by pi cubed. Best looking. RBI. Whatever. The five contributors to this website can’t seem to agree on who we think are the All-Stars. Except Ichiro!. That we can all agree on.

I swore I wasn’t going to bother. I voted from my gut. Stars are stars, stats be damned, right? Some friends and colleagues didn’t agree with me, so my curiosity is piqued now.

Most every discussion you’ll hear this time of the year focuses almost exclusively on offensive stats. But you and I both know offense only tells half the story. Defense matters, too. Unless you’re David Ortiz.

So I’ve compiled the Wins Above Replacement Player (WARP, courtesy of Baseball Prospectus) for each player in the top five balloting thus far. I’m not trumpeting WARP as the end all savior of the universe statistic. It’s one of many tools to evaluate and compare players. So for your reading pleasure, and for some educated ammo for your next ballpark/barstool discussion of the All-Stars, here are the top five vote getters at each position (as of today), followed by their WARP score in 2005 (current through last night’s game), 2004 and 2003. Any interesting players to me not in the top five, I included separated from their colleagues by an ellipsis. Here’s hoping you have many fruitful All-Star discussions this All-Star season.

But in the words that LeVar Burton taught me, don’t take my word for it…

First Base
Tino Martinez – 1.1, 4.2, 4.9
Mark Teixeira – 3.4, 5.8, 3.3
Kevin Millar – 1.9, 4.2, 4.9
Paul Konerko – 3.5, 4.8, 1.6
Richie Sexson – 2.0, 1.2, 9.7

Second Base
Brian Roberts – 4.7, 4.4, 3.3
Alfonso Soriano – 2.6, 3.8, 7.5
Mark Bellhorn – 2.4, 5.0, 0.1
Tony Womack – 1.1, 3.1, -1.6
Tadahito Iguchi – 1.9

Bret Boone – 1.1, 3.1, 10.3

Third Base
Alex Rodriguez – 3.6, 8.0, 10.0
Bill Mueller – 2.1, 3.9, 6.8
Melvin Mora – 4.5, 7.0, 5.8
Hank Blalock – 3.2, 6.3, 4.1
Adrian Beltre – 1.5, 11.3, 2.3

Eric Chavez – 1.7, 6.7, 7.7

Miguel Tejada – 5.1, 10.4, 4.5
Derek Jeter – 3.7, 6.4, 3.4
Edgar Renteria – 0.7, 3.1, 8.6
Carlos Guillen – 3.0, 9.4, 3.4
Michael Young – 2.3, 4.7, 3.2

Jason Varitek – 3.4, 6.8, 6.0
Ivan Rodriguez – 2.1, 6.8, 7.7
Jorge Posada – 2.5, 6.8, 8.9
Javy Lopez – 1.7, 6.8, 9.3
A.J. Pierzynski – 1.8, 3.3, 6.6

Manny Ramirez – 2.1, 6.7, 8.1
Ichiro! – 2.9, 7.9, 6.0
Vlad Guerrero – 2.8, 9.1, 6.0
Johnny Damon – 3.2, 6.6, 5.2
Gary Sheffield – 3.1, 7.5, 10.4
Hideki Matsui – 2.2, 6.7, 3.9
Torii Hunter – 2.9, 3.8, 3.2
Trot Nixon – 2.5, 1.4, 5.9
Sammy Sosa – 1.9, 5.0, 5.8
Scott Podesednik – 2.3, 2.4, 5.8
Bernie Williams – 0.9, 3.8, 3.7
Garrett Anderson – 1.8, 2.5, 7.8
Steve Finley – 1.4, 5.0, 4.6
Richard Hidalgo – 1.7, 3.2, 8.4
Jermaine Dye – 1.2, 3.5, -0.4

Randy Winn – 2.8, 4.9, 3.9

Designated Hitter
David Ortiz – 2.8, 6.3, 4.9
Rafael Palmeiro – 1.6, 5.2, 4.8
Jason Giambi – 0.8, 1.0, 7.1
Dmitri Young – 2.0, 2.3, 6.5
Frank Thomas – 0.5, 3.3, 6.2

Raul Ibanez – 2.2, 3.9, 3.7

Tomorrow, the Senior Circuit…


27 Responses to “All-Stars: American League”

  1. Pat on June 21st, 2005 1:07 pm

    I’m surprised at Ivan Rodriguez’ WARP for this year. I didn’t think he was having that constructive a season.

    (I’m not a trekkie, but it still weirds me out to see Levar Burton without his megacool visor goggle thingies.)

  2. Yamhill Mariner on June 21st, 2005 1:17 pm

    I was just recalling the 1979 All Star game at the Kingdome with my wife at lunch today and was pondering how the game has changed. In that game, I remember NL manager Tom Lasorda doing a double switch in the sixth inning and former Mariner 1B Bruce Bochte laying down a sacrifice bunt in the eighth. You know, things guys do to win games in the regular season. The game isn’t a game anymore……it is an exhibition, even if home field is on the line for the World Series.

    I guess I might have to wait a few years before the NFL decides home field in the playoffs based upon who wins the Pro Bowl the previous season.

  3. Digger on June 21st, 2005 1:18 pm


  4. Shoeless Jose on June 21st, 2005 1:35 pm

    I’d be interested in seeing the top five by WARP (or whatever stat) rather than the stats for the five most popular players. I mean, people are still voting for Nomar and Bonds.

    And Vlad is doing that poorly compared to Damon? Is that just because of his time on the DL?

    Anyway, here’s the question I always like to ask: if you were going to put together a 5 man rotation from all of the AL (salaries be damned) whom would you pick?

  5. sean gilman on June 21st, 2005 1:38 pm

    Raul Ibanez – 3.6, 4.7, 4.4

  6. Evan on June 21st, 2005 1:38 pm

    I voted back in mid-May, at a game in which Beltre, Sexson, and Ibanez all hit homeruns.

    As such, I voted for Beltre, Sexson, and… David Ortiz. I couldn’t help it – Big Papi’s just so huggable.

  7. sean gilman on June 21st, 2005 1:39 pm

    Those are Raul’s WARP3, looks like Peter was using WARP1 instead.

    Here’s Ibanez again:

    Raul Ibanez – 2.0, 3.9, 3.7

  8. BrianV on June 21st, 2005 2:44 pm

    I still don’t think an All Star appearance should be determined by first half performance. Derek Lee’s big season is fine, but I still pick Pujols.

    If there’s no clear cut “star”, at the position (NL SS?), then I guess, go with the guy having the best season.

    Anyway, I’ve always done it as, “If I had to pick 8 guys to make a team to win the World Series this year, who would I pick?” That mitigates the big first halves somewhat. Who’s the best player at that position in the game today? That’s my All Star.

  9. chris on June 21st, 2005 3:21 pm

    I find it pretty amazing that Brian Roberts is the leading vote-getter at 2B.

    I think it is actually a testimony to how many people are playing fantasy baseball these days, because in years past I have trouble remembering any other player who exploded out of nowhere leading in fan voting over established stars…

  10. Cool Papa Bell on June 21st, 2005 3:45 pm

    There really aren’t any established stars at second base in the AL. Soriano is the only one who comes close to fitting that description and he’s a year and half removed from the Hype Capital of the World.

  11. Evan on June 21st, 2005 3:55 pm

    If Orlando Hudson had won the gold glove last year as he deserved, he’d be getting more all-star support, even though he’s having a crappy year with the bat.

  12. chris on June 21st, 2005 3:55 pm

    re: #10, 2b has become (or has been) a pretty weak position, in the AL, especially looking at the names on that list, but I guess it just surprises me that even with the year BR is having, he is beating Alphonse in fan voting.

    To me, it seems like people are more dialed in to the statistical side of things these days. My theory it is a combination of the Moneyball hype and the growth in fantasy sports….

  13. Dave on June 21st, 2005 4:00 pm

    I know its not the sabermetrically approved opinion, but I have no problem voting the guy in who is having the best year at the point they play the game. It is the 2005 all-star game, after all. If I wanted to see the same players every year, I’d just watch last years version and skip through the commercials.

    To me, there’s no way I could look Brian Roberts in the face and tell him he’s not an all-star because he wasn’t good enough two years ago. That’s absurd, I think.

  14. ahaha on June 21st, 2005 4:09 pm

    Shoeless Jose, Re: AL 5-man rotation.
    Santana, RJ, Harden, Halladay, Bonderman.
    Replace RJ for Buehrle if this is a keeper league.

  15. Brian Rust on June 21st, 2005 4:37 pm

    Having fantasy baseball fanatics voting for All-Star teams is like having folks who get their news from The Daily Show voting for president. Artificial news, artificial baseball, take your pick.

    In the old days you actually had to care enough to go to the stadium to vote. Or at least stop by the Gillette booth at your local grocery.

  16. Jeff on June 21st, 2005 5:02 pm

    Having fantasy baseball fanatics voting for All-Star teams is like having folks who get their news from The Daily Show voting for president.

    That’s probably a good analogy. And probably a good thing in both cases.

  17. DMZ on June 21st, 2005 5:06 pm

    In the old days you actually had to care enough to go to the stadium to vote.

    They should require you to own land, too, before you can vote for the All-Stars.

  18. Daaaaan on June 21st, 2005 5:20 pm

    #8 i can’t understand this view.

    there is a lot left in the season, sure, but lee is leading the NL in most categories, and is 2 behind in RBI, runs, and 2B. he is hitting .392. he has a reasonable shot at hitting .400 for the season and winning a triple crown.

    pujols is good. i can’t imagine an all star team without him. but this year, lee is better, hands down.

  19. Basebliman on June 21st, 2005 5:44 pm

    Peter, I see where you are coming from on this. I haven’t been excited about an All-Star game since 2001, and even then only because it was held here and I had tickets. I remember as a kid, stuffing the ballot box at the Kingdome full of Griffey votes. Now I just don’t care. I still don’t know why.

  20. msb on June 21st, 2005 6:06 pm

    I’m still waiting for my usher to pass out my ballot(s)…..

  21. Landed Gentry on June 21st, 2005 6:06 pm

    The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball should commission George Will to write essays about the leading candidates and their contribution to greater American culture and society and then appoint a blue-ribbon commission of Senator George Mitchell (ret.), documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, and Negro League great Josh Gibson to review and debate the essays before ultimately selecting the All-Star starters for each league. Or everyone could lighten up and vote for whoever they feel like.

  22. wabbles on June 21st, 2005 6:10 pm

    It’s interesting that you began with that democracy quote. In…1954?…Cincinnati fans so blatantly stuffed the All-Star ballot box, the voting was taken away from the fans until the 1970s or so. The jury’s still out on fans who vote in players who aren’t even playing that year.

  23. peter on June 22nd, 2005 7:05 am

    Ibanez and Winn… I’ll edit them in for good measure.

    But really can you make any reasonable case they are All-Stars — starting All-Stars, at that — over and above Ichiro!, Sheffield, Vlad and Ramirez?

  24. Adam S on June 22nd, 2005 9:14 am

    The numbers that jumped out at me are 3B. I’m surprised to see Mora ahead of A-Rod. Is A-Rod that bad defensively or Mora that good? Looks like on offense Rodriguez is +18 runs (VORP or Runs Created from ESPN). I forget the Runs/Wins conversion, but is Mora really ~+25 net on defense, or am I missing something? I would have though A-Rod was at least average at 3B, based on being a gold glove SS.

    Winn is really so good on defense that he’s having an all-star (backup) year?!?

  25. Cool Papa Bell on June 22nd, 2005 10:31 am

    Batting Runs Above Replacement: 37
    Fielding Runs Above Replacement: -2

    BRAR: 27
    FRAR: 16

    BRAR: 11
    FRAR: 15

    Alex is indeed credited with playing terrible defense this year while Mora is credited with playing good defense. These defensive metrics are sketchy so it would be best if people who have watched either player a lot this year gave their opinion on whether these players defense has dramatically changed this season. I will point out that ARod has 9 errors so far compared to only 13 all of last year so maybe he is struggling with the glove.

    Winn also gets a good defensive rating, which shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who doesn’t obsess over his arm strength. He is a quality player who is an asset to this team. It’s frustrating that he is so underrated because we could get a good return in a trade otherwise. Teams like San Francisco, San Diego, Philadelphia and the New York Yankees would have been much better served trading for Winn this last offseason than signing Moises Alou, trading for Dave Roberts or Kenny Lofton, or sticking with Bernie Williams. I think he is so underrated because he doesn’t do anyone thing well enough to grab peoples attention. This is a shame because he is close to a complete package for pretty cheap.

  26. Sky on June 22nd, 2005 11:50 am

    Wow, it looks like Roberts, Tejada, and Mora are the top three players in the AL by a landslide. That’ll put your team in first place.

  27. Evan on June 22nd, 2005 1:37 pm

    They should require you to own land, too, before you can vote for the All-Stars.

    I’ll support that. This whole democracy thing is getting out of hand.